Differential migration of Th1 and Th2 cells—implications for vaccine and infection studies Academic Article uri icon


  • Most lymphocytes migrate continuously between the blood and lymphatic system. This migration does not occur randomly and shows some bias for specific tissue compartments. In particular, CD4+ memory T cells have been shown to preferentially migrate to either peripheral or mucosal lymph nodes depending on their site of origin. The selective migration of lymphocytes into lymph nodes is facilitated by the differential expression of adhesion molecules on the lymphocyte surface interacting with their respective ligands on endothelial cells lining the capillary vessels. The acquisition of these 'mucosal' or 'peripheral' homing receptors was thought to be dictated by the particular tissue site in which lymphocyte were activated. A large amount of recent experimentation has shown that memory T cells generated against infectious agents can have different functional phenotypes as determined by their cytokine secretion patterns. Two of these distinct functional phenotypes. Th1 and Th2 cells, are differentially induced in peripheral and mucosal lymph nodes and recent data has suggested that the observed tissue-specific migration of memory T cells may be determined by this functional phenotype rather than the site of activation. Data in support of this new hypothesis are presented in this paper. In addition, as both the functional and surface phenotype of lymphocytes is dependent on local hormonal and cytokine environments, lymphocyte migration patterns may be manipulated by vaccination and infection.

publication date

  • May 1998